AT&T PARK — The first run of Friday’s Bay Bridge Series opener came when Oakland Athletics starter Edwin Jackson essentially tripped on the mound and was called for a balk with a runner on third. Then the A’s All-Star second baseman went down, Oakland pitchers hit two Giants and allowed a run on a wild pitch, and what was at one point a pitching duel turned into a 7-1 San Francisco Giants win in part thanks to one of the Giants’ most recent call-ups.
San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner came into Friday night’s game with a 3.01 career ERA, three World Series rings, a World Series MVP, a $12 million salary, an endorsement deal with Ford and Cy Young votes, all with the Giants. Meanwhile, Jackson has played for 13 teams, with a 4.65 career ERA, and he’s on a minor-league contract.
A game that easily could have been a mismatch between the ace and the journeyman instead turned into quite the duel between the starting pitchers on a cold Friday, before the Giants finally broke the game open against the A’s bullpen in the seventh.
Both starters went six innings; Bumgarner gave up just three hits and one run, while striking out five, and Jackson allowed four hits and two runs.
Then the two teams went to their bullpens. After Bumgarner loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, the Giants sent Reyes Moronta to the mound. He escaped with a strikeout, a fantastic diving catch on a line drive by Pablo Sandoval at third and a groundout to short. The tired A’s bullpen didn’t fare quite as well, giving up five runs in the bottom half of the inning.
“You always look at a point in the game that could be the turning point, and (Morata getting the Giants out of the inning) certainly was,” Giants manager Bochy said. “I mean, Bum threw a great ball game, but base hit, walk, then he walks the next guy; at that point, he’s coming out. We’ve done that a few times to Morata. We’ve put him in a tough situation, and he handles it so well.
“It’s going beyond not to give up a run. He’s saved us so many times already since he’s been up here, and it’s nice to have him to call on, and that’s kind of been his role.”
As Moronta walked off the field after the seventh, Bumgarner greeted him in the dugout with a hug.
“Unbelievable job right there,” Bumgarner said. “That’s a tough spot to put somebody in, and he did as good a job as you can do, especially in that situation right there, a one-run game. … I think that won the game for us.”
Moronta said he was just doing his job and wasn’t thinking about the situation he was going in to.
“I just go out there, and I try to throw strikes,” he said.
Giants center fielder Steven Duggar, in just his fourth game since his July 8th call-up, showed why he’s considered to be the team’s future at the position. He had the first hit for San Francisco (a double to lead off the fourth) and crossed the plate later that inning when Jackson was called for a balk. In the sixth inning, he walked and, again, scored a run. In that crucial seventh inning, he doubled and, yes, scored again, after driving in two.
“He was in the middle of everything today,” Bochy said. “He’s just going to get more and more comfortable up here, but he looks like he’s comfortable already, from the get-go.”
Duggar said that he doesn’t care whether he’s facing a left-hander or a right-hander because, “to me it’s just another guy on the mound, it’s another arm.”
“There was one thought today,” he said, “and that was just ‘get on base.’ … Just trying to find a way on because the guys we have behind me are All-Stars.”
Speaking of All-Stars, the A’s lost second baseman Jed Lowrie when he collided with right fielder Stephen Piscotty in shallow right field. Lowrie left the game with a left leg contusion, four days before he’s scheduled to take part in his first career All-Star Game.
With two more games between the two teams before the All-Star break and three right after it, things are setting up for a tense five games crucial to the playoff plans of both teams.